Last week, one of our group companies, - Ador Digatron chose to honour a very special member of the team in a touching and poignant way. The entire company gathered to celebrate the career of one of our longest serving manufacturing shop-floor operators in Pune, India. This was not a retirement ceremony, nor a farewell, – just everyone taking 5 minutes off in the middle of the day to celebrate the career of a genuine human being, who is also a hardworking and cheeky colleague.
Govardhan DABHADE, or ‘Dabhade Sir’ as he is popularly known, joined us 28 years ago and has worked in every shop-floor of every Ador Group company in Pune during that time. The team chose to name the main conference room at the Pune manufacturing plant after him. It is now proudly called the “Govardhan Dabhade Conference Room” – or as I am sure it will soon be known, the “Dhabade Sir Room”.
Govardhan joined us as a gardener in the late 1980s, – back when we had a large rose garden that spanned over three acres at one of our factories. This was during the era when companies indulged in such wonderful luxuries like rose gardens and flower shows. We used to compete in the local Pune Rose show, often winning the annual gold medal competing against submissions even from the botanical gardens.
To live the truth, we also must consciously remind ourselves to just say it as it is, without malice but with clear and positive intent. Respect will follow, so will success, confidence, happiness and the gradual lifting of that terrible tension of not being enough.
Watching Govardhan speak at this low-key ceremony reminded me of how times have changed and how we all now seem to dedicate less time and resources for the more beautiful things. Rather than stopping to smell the real roses, we seem to be doing that vicariously online instead. As I was watching the touching ceremony, the memory of the rose garden seemed to suddenly become a symbol of a time when people and things were far more real.
Govardhan was responsible for many of our Rose Show gold medals due to his uncanny green thumbs. But as time moved on, so did his challenges. The rose gardens vanished with the frenetic activity that came post the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990s and Govardhan chose to move inside the manufacturing plant, working in the equipment assembly shop as a fabricator. He then moved to our power electronics manufacturing shop-floor, where he started earning his own medals – best contributor, most efficient performer, cleanest workspace, highest output, most skilled copper winding professional, the list is endless.
Govardhan is one of those special people who live life with the brutal honesty that so many of us only aspire to. He is the same person in every sphere of his life – what you see is the real person, always. People like Govardhan always seem so content, so calm and happy because they live life by the rules of their own truth. Their own true north! No fake portrayed online persona that they constantly need to live up to, no tensions from not living up to the expectations of others. They are immensely at peace with who they are. I have occasionally come across such special people, some of whom are CEOs, directors, business heads, mad scientists in design teams, Uber taxi drivers and restaurant waiters, chefs, deep sea diving coaches and of course Govardhan. What they share is contentment, calm, clarity and confidence.
At Ador, “Being Brutally Honest” is one of our four core values. The other three are easy to understand and to live daily. But brutal honesty, quite like attaining moksha (achieving your inner calm after finding your true purpose) or finding nirvana (heaven), seems so ephemeral and elusive.
We spend between 70% to 80% of our waking hours at work and half our time back at home is invested in sleep and recovery. So, naturally our day job has an enormous impact on our well-being. The relationships we have with our work colleagues have an important bearing on our happiness as well as our mental, emotional and clinical health. Yet most of us chose to live behind a shield at work, in protection mode unable to be ourselves, resulting in an inability to develop long lasting sustainable and nourishing relationships at work.
The book Radical Candor has a wonderfully succinct description about “bringing your whole self to work”. It is important we find courage to be our real selves at work – embracing our weaknesses and strengths, living life for who we truly are.
I feel fortunate to work for a company that has brutal honesty as a core value, yet also recognises that we are all imperfect beings who are not able to live this 24/7, sometimes failing and other times forgetting. A company that consciously rewards this core value within its teams.
It struck me that this is exactly what Dabhade ‘Sir’ has done all his life and perhaps that is what made this low-key event so special. A room at our workplace was being named after a special individual who had figured out the road to success and happiness, as defined by him.
What a lovely gesture by the team which will also remind us daily that the secret of success, happiness and our wellbeing rests in being brutally honest and living our own truth daily.
Ravin Mirchandani is the Chairman and Director at ADOR